Saturday, February 28, 2009

Batman Confidential #26

This was pretty fun. It is nice reading a classic, non-world changing Batman story once in awhile, and this delivers. While I'm not sure I love the idea of silly TV show-villain King Tut being a martial arts-murderer, I am happy to see him being used. The high point is how Riddler shows up here. He's competent and charming, actually, and I loved how he interacted with Bats and Gordon. He is loose from Arkham at the end, but I'd bet he ends up helping Batman by the end of the story. I also wonder about the woman "Leigh" who shows up, since she seems to be the only non-core character who doesn't die this issue. That's got to mean she is important to the plot somehow, right? I'm going to read one more, and if it holds up as strongly as this issue, then I will probably grab this out of dollar bins this summer (since Confidential doesn't seem to get traded regularly).

The Garcia-Lopez/Nowlan team does some great work here. I loved the look of the Batmobile. Batman looked good too, but Commissioner Gordon looked great.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Thunderbolts #129

So far, this is the best of a pretty good week. This issue picks up with Green Goblin attacking Obama, Norman Osborn, and Doc Samson, only Samson has been "hulked out" by Ant Man last issue, and is pretty much out of control. The whole attack has been carefully orchestrated by Osborn to impress Obama and discredit Samson. During the fight, Samson is pushed out of Air Force One and disappears, but even after the smoke clears, Osborn hardly has a blank check. He tries bad mouthing SHIELD and talking about how impressive HAMMER is, and Obama seems pretty suspicious right away. It seems like it could be a fun back and forth if Diggle stays with it. The rest of the issue is team-building as Paladin, Ant Man, and the Headsman seem to be a little more laid back and mercenary, wanting to get paid and drink beer, while Ghost and Black Widow II are more focused. There could be some fun interactions with this crew coming up, especially since I'm uncertain just how evil Ant Man and Paladin are willing to be. Surely there is a moral line for them somewhere? The big surprise for me is the return of a classic Tbolt that Diggle handled well in the past. I had assumed this character was out of the book for good, and seeing them show up again was pretty exciting. I'm hoping we may get some sort of reunion group of the old Tbolts (and maybe Doc Samson) as a counter-team to take out Osborn. There is a ton of potential in this book.

Roberto De La Torre's art is murky, but the action is clear. I loved his look for Headsman, kind of a redneck with the big moustache look. This is one of the best books Marvel is putting out right now.


Avengers: The Initiative #22

Again, I think I had super-high expectations for this after last issue. Ragnarok spends his time whupping up on the remaining Initiative folks, with the New Warriors returning to save the day for their own reasons. It seems Tigra is going to keep her baby after all, at least, that's my guess, since she takes herself out of the fight out of fear for the kid. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I suppose it makes sense. I was surprised a comic would come down on the pro-abortion side, and it seems we won't be seeing it here either. I really hope this means she will be remaining in the cast though, since there is an interesting story to be told about the cat-lady mother of an alien baby. Gauntlet takes charge more in this one too, although I laughed at Doc Samson's appearance. I don't think we'll be seeing him too much soon after what happened in Thunderbolts. I do hope that Stingray, Gargoyle, and Hellcat decide to stick around. I love Geiger's look too, so I'd love to see her continue in some capacity, and the same goes for Thor Girl, although she seems to be written out with this issue when she flies off to pay her respects to Asgard. I'm not sure the Warriors' mission is really worthy of the splash page at the end, surely it is not a cliffhanger of any sort. Is Disassembled over now? I mean, Ragnarok was pretty much the big threat wasn't he? Or will the re-powered Baron Blitz be more trouble?

Humberto Ramos' art was sketchier than normal here, but it looked ok. I kind of liked his take on Tigra and his Ragnarok was pretty well done. I miss that Thor costume!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dark Avengers #2

I'm really impressed with how Bendis is handling this title. Maybe it is the rock-solid foundations that Ellis laid down in his Thunderbolts run, but Bendis' team of jerks is awesome. I really enjoyed the opening sequence where Osborn lays down the law about talking to the press. Ares calmly tells Osborn that he can't tell him what to do, so Osborn makes sure Ares doesn't want to talk to the press. He doesn't, so no problem. Again, a few moments later, Bullseye/Hawkeye suggests going after Iron Man. There is a great cut shot of Ares and Sentry, neither of whom look too pleased to be going after their old leader, so Osborn immediately states that the Dark Avengers aren't really going to get involved. Fascinating characterizations here, including the pettiness of Moonstone/Ms. Marvel as she still can't get to the top of the heap the way she believes she should. The main conflict with Morgan Le Fay is fine, but nothing too special. I do find it interesting that the seeds for this story were laid back in Mighty Avengers. If readers were not familiar with that, I wonder if it would be as interesting?

Deodato's art is superb here. These Thunderbolts are HIS characters now, he draws them like no one else. He's quickly nailed down the new looks and characters. His Ares is awesome. This is a no-brainer trade for me now.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mighty Avengers #22

This issue was fine, but I admit I had super-high hopes for it. After constructing some great personality conflicts last issue, this is a much more standard issue of the Avengers. Our oddball team heads into Mt. Wundagore to face off against Modred the Mystic while Quicksilver/Cthon zips around the world causing problems. There are some nice character bits in this one too, as US Agent gets to act like a jerk and mock Pym a little bit. Pym also seems to have... ah... mounted Jocasta at one point and put something in her, and that is all a little odd. I did enjoy the Iron Man/Hulk fight, especially because of how it ends. I'm unclear on what is going on with the Scarlet Witch, but at this point I'll take just about anything that redeems her and gets her back into circulation. No need to deal with that Disassembled stuff more than necessary, I say. I really enjoyed the use of Quicksilver for the recap. It seems we are solidly back into heroic Quicksilver territory here, and I'm fine with that. I'm hoping he finds his way onto the permanent team after things settle down in this arc. I also think both Iron Man and Pym need to stick around, but we'll see.

Khoi Pham's art is fine here. The action looks good, but things remain a tad sketchy. I did like his take on US Agent.


Titans #10

There was time I would gave gone nuts reading a JLA vs. the Titans fight drawn by Howard Porter. I will say, that even with the DCU being what it is for me these days, this issue wasn't too bad. Jericho continues body-hopping around between the two teams. One thing I like about Jericho is that while he's competent using other people's powers, he is never better than they are, and that holds true here. There is a great bit with Superman overpowering Jericho's possession, because, well, he's Superman. That was pretty cool. But the resolution of Jericho just fading away? Really? This has been 3 or 4 issues now (with 4 more from DCU Decisions if you think about it). And the heroes couldn't catch him. Kind of surprising. In fact, if you look a the Titans' record in this series so far, they are just not that impressive. They barely beat anyone they fight. Winick's writing is ok here, I'm ok with his portrayals of most of the characters, although I would have liked Firestorm having a bit more to do since he's SO powerful.

Howard Porter's art was decent, with a few panels of the Flash ALMOST looking like his old JLA energy-filled work. I do like his take on the big heroes. I do think the Titans regular artist should draw women a tad hotter (with Donna, Starfire, and Raven all on the team), but he has the action down.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Avengers/Invaders #8

I'm not sure what just happened. After quite a few issues running around not doing very much, each of the sub-plots was resolved REALLY fast. Human Torch faces down Ultron very easily, this is not the same robot from Annihilation, that's for sure. Then Echo is somehow immune to D'Spayre's powers because she's deaf? Huh? And D'Spayre was really the Golden Age Vision, who is actually a midwife for cosmic cubes. I'm really getting lost here! I love how the Invaders will listen to reason now. That surely would have been easier to do in issue 1 or 2. In any case, using the cube, Dr. Strange is sending the Invaders back to the past. He does a little mind-wipe just in case (so sorry, Winter Soldier!) But then it seems something goes wrong, because a blue wave of energy starts atomizing the combined Avengers teams. Dr. Strange saves a small crew, but I honestly have no clue what is going on from this point. (That small team includes Spidey, Ronin, Iron Man, Cage, Ms. Marvel, and the Invaders).

Steve Sadowski's art is still pretty darn solid. He has a great handle on team books, and everyone looks good. I was impressed with his faces in particular in this issue.


Birds of Prey #127

So this was the last issue. The Birds try to take on the Network of villains they've been fighting for like 20 issues now, but they don't even really win. They end up taking out the flunkies, but the Calculator gets away. Of course, last issue Calculator took over the Kilg%re, the Flash villain, so now he can control computers and create powerful robotic avatars for himself. He even takes over a rocket and gives it a shark face this issue, so I guess he has complete control over metal as a whole, not just circuitry? In any case, I'm not a big fan of the idea of upping Calculator's power levels like this. Hopefully it is temporary. What bothers me more is that we had the whole Birds team together and they were pretty ineffective. They spent the last few issues kind of just running around, totally outmatched by their foes. Then when the story ended, Oracle just left a note with the newest Bird, Infinity, saying she was disbanding the team while she finds herself. I'm kind of surprised at that too, because it is a little selfish. Surely the rest of the team could continue while Oracle was away? The story just smacked of editorial fiat, I don't think this was a natural conclusion for the Birds' story, and I don't think Oracle would act this way. But to be honest, Bedard's second run on this book wasn't as good as his first, so I'm not too sad to see the title go. The sad part is how much I loved this book back when Chuck Dixon wrote it, then how it was even better with Gail Simone. Oh well. Another long run to be forgotten about in my longboxes!

Claude St. Aubin's artwork is pretty inconsistent. Some of his panels looked fine, especially his combat stuff when the Birds took on the Network. But his Lady Blackhawk vs. Calculator pages were awful, so I'm not sure what was going on. The backup art by Fernando Pasarin was so much better it kind of made the lead art look worse too.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Moon Knight vol 3 TPB: God & Country

Man, Moon Knight is crazy. I mean, I've been digging this take on the lunar hero, so I knew he was crazy, talking to Konshu and seeing him as the de-faced (literally) dead foe Bushman, but this story takes it to new heights. It turns out Spector has actually kept Bushman's face and when he's feeling down, he puts it on over his own face. That is CRAZY! The story follows MK as he operates at ultraviolent levels while retaining his registered hero status. We all know he shouldn't have his registration, but Iron Man is trying to track down how he got approved. While this is happening, old MK foe the Black Spectre re-enters the picture, planning on using old SHIELD tech to make everyone follow his commands. Naturally this leads to a confrontation holographically projected at enourmous size to the public. When Moon Knight goes even further than usual in dealing with the Spectre, well Iron Man is out for the cowl now. This trade is the last of the former status quo, since it seems Moonie has now abandoned his old life. He's pushed everyone away and he's burning out at this point. The final chapter was a fantastic flashback to a confrontation with the Werewolf-by-Night. I never read any Werewolf stories, so maybe he was always this powerful, but man, he seems like a force of nature when he goes up against Moonie here. I'm looking forward to the upcoming MK on the run story where I believe he faces off with the Tbolts.

Most of the art is by Tex and Javier Saltares, and they bring their normal gritty style. It works well for the book. But the final chapter by Mike Deodato is awesome. Setting the story in the past lets Deodato do a more heroic Moon Knight, making him look much more respectable. Overall, I'd say I still prefer the Marc Spector: Moon Knight series by Chuck Dixon from the 90s, even if it wasn't as challenging as this. It was easier to root for Spector as a clear hero in that title. Now it is more like watching a train wreck as MK destroys his world, alienates his friends, and physically punishes the guilty as he wreaks his vengeance. I'm also still amused at how similar the current take on MK is to my submission to Epic (where MK led a new team called the US Marvels. Like US Marshalls, get it? :) ). Mine wasn't this dark, but it was very similar in the large Konshu percentage to the story.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Astonishing Tales #1

Wow. This book has a bunch of stories by writers and artists that should not be getting published work right now. I like most of the characters involved in this issue (Punisher, Wolverine, Iron Man, Arno Stark, Cannonball and Sunspot) and yet I have NO desire to see how any of these stories continue. Is it a weakness of the format that these 8 pagers are just terrible? Some are boring (Arno Stark), some don't make sense with confusing art (Punisher and Wolverine), some are just pointless (Iron Man, Sunspot and Cannonball). I'm not sure, but I'm checking out after one issue.

The art is by 4 or 5 guys whose names I didn't recognize. I think they could conceivably be fine on stories a little more... standard. This was a stinker.


4-Year Old Reviews Tiny Titans #13

I like the part where the Titans meet Inky. Because "Splllt." I liked the Pet Club Meeting because everyone was saying "Hi Inky" and something was in his mouth. I was surprised to see the Atom's family. It was Aqualad's fault because he brought and he put in too much soap. The penguins and Alfred were surprised by the bubbles. Alfred doesn't like the spraying from the elephant. The lizard is even in trouble, but he seems happy. Why is he on that page? Kid Devil sneezed fire, so he must be allergic to fire. I liked Flamebird more than Hotspot. I liked the fire guys.

This comic was Good and Fair and Average and Good and Fantastic.

El Diablo #1-6

This is the type of DC story that got me into the DCU. 6 issues spent exploring a the next generation of a classic DC character, where there is still a role of some sort for the original. The new El Diablo is the jerk Chato Santanna, ganglord murderer with no real redeeming qualities. He's a jerk throughout the series, and the only reason he could be seen as the protagonist is that the curse of the El Diablo forces him to punish criminals. I liked the use of ghosts asking for vengeance, and the fact that only those deserving of vengeance are vulnerable to the weapons of El Diablo. There was a greater story involving an ancient goddess of caves and a terrible new villain named "Vorpal" but those weren't the best parts of the series. Jai Nitz did a nice job showing a grizzled cop's reaction and acceptance of Diablo's work. Diablo is just doing the work he wishes he could do in punishing the guilty. There were two issues with Diablo facing off against Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters that were pretty fun too. That team has enough skeletons in its closet that the face-off had some neat sequences where I could see how justified Diablo was in going after the heroes. The question now is, will we ever see this Diablo again? I'd say he's got a 25% chance of being used.

Phil Hester's art is as good as always. He seems to get put on these low-level projects too often. I'd love to see him teamed up with a writer I really enjoy.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thor #600

So JMS redeemed his lack of action this issue, with a huge Thor-worthy slugfest that is worthy of the God of Thunder. Thor goes up against a confused Bor, who has been thrown into the present by the scheming Loki. Loki's plans and maneuvering through this whole volume of Thor pays off this issue, as his plan comes to fruition. We get a new status quo for Baldur the Brave and for Thor, and Loki is now suggesting relocating Asgard to Latveria. I'm not sure it fits (aren't the Atlanteans there too? How big is Latveria?) I'm also a tad unclear on whether or not Thor's hammer was broken when he dealt his THRAKADOOM death-blow to Bor. The battle was so epic up to that point, I'm actually ok with the use of Simonson and Workman's sound effect like that. I'm unclear on where the book will go from here, but I'm hoping that a Thor with a lot more time on his hands may take some action against the Dark Avengers. When they showed up this issue, Thor was justifiably pissed. I am still digging the interaction with Baldur and Loki too, since Baldur knows who he's dealing with, I hope he continues to stick up for his bud Thor.

Olivier Coipel's art is great, and it was a lot of fun seeing him draw so much combat. I'll bet there is a long delay after this issue as he recuperates, since he's not the fastest artist. Marko Djurdjevic's portion was well done too, making the modern world seem pretty horrifying to Bor. His alternate take on Thor was spooky. The backups were fun too, with Stan Lee doing a remarkably non-chatty Thor story set in the days of the classic Avengers.


Patsy Walker: Hellcat #5

Yeeeaaah. I'm afraid I really don't understand what this series was about. Or what happened. Or how Hellcat is changed or better after this story. It was randomness personified, and while at times I respect the madcap nature of the narrative, I have to say I'm totally lost on why this book had to happen. I'd much rather read about Hellcat in Avengers: The Initiative. Kathryn Immonen has a unique voice in comics, she's certainly going for fun. I'm just not sure it is for me.

David Lafuente's art is manic and fun throughout. I'd say that is the high point of the series for certain.


Immortal Iron Fist #22

I have to admit, I'm impressed with where Duane Swirczynski has gone with Iron Fist. This issue opens up with Iron Fist being tortured in the Eigth City, and we quickly find out how he and the other immortal weapons found themselves in such dire straits. They are being forced to fight on a continual basis with no food or rest, leaving them the targets of brutal beatings from the inhabitants of the Eigth City. The City is populated by the monsters and criminals from the other seven cities, making this a city of madmen and creatures, which is a great idea. The Immortal Weapons head in with additional urging from Davos, the Steel Serpent, who knows that the previous leader of K'un L'un banished political foes to this hell too. So the story essentially picks up numerous elements from the excellent Brubaker & Fraction run and extrapolates them out well. My one complaint about this issue in particular is that we get almost no time with the other weapons, and if this is a team book now I expect to see a bit more of them. In fact, I can't remember all 7 of the weapons now, just the Dog Brother and Bride of Nine Spiders.

Travel Foreman's art is fantastic here. His designs for the creatures populating the Eight City are horrifying and creepy. This creative team has done a good enough job picking up the reigns from the old team, so at this point I'm sold on the trade.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Guardians of the Galaxy #10

Damn. DnA have done it again. This issue was fantastic. Last issue's cliffhanger picks up nicely as Rocket and the team ride to the rescue to help out Jack Flagg and Star Lord, and they promptly... leave. I love it. The team just tells Mr. Fantastic what's up and gets out. Classy. The running gag where no one believes the Guardians are a real team is a fantastic one, and I'm liking the possibilities of some kind of relationship with Star Lord and Mantis, that could be fun. I do hope Rocket gets to keep some kind of a leadership role even after SL gets back, he's been a heckuva leader. With all the excitement going on in the A plot, it is easy to overlook how masterfully DnA have woven the B plot of Warlock and Gamorra's face off with the Church of Truth. That's how War of Kings will be brought into the book, and I can't wait.

Brad Walker's art is a really great fit for the title. His take on Blastaar and his hordes was fantastic. I hope we get to see Jack Flagg in uniform soon.


Gears of War #4

There is something fun about reading the Cole Train yelling
Mother F%ucker. Heh. The story is still moving along, but it feels slow, I'd bet this series has been hit with delays. I'm pretty sure it takes place before the Gears of War game that I'm playing right now, so the lung-sickness infecting Delta's newest member should be resolved in the game. There is not a lot of ground-breaking action (well, technically ground-breaking, I suppose) but I'm not reading this for epic storytelling. If you like the tone of the video games and enjoy watching Marcus Fenix and pals take on Brumak's, you could do worse. This book is banging along based on my love of the property as a whole, that said, not a whole lot happens in this issue.

Liam Sharp's pages looked great, but there was a fair amount of fill-in work in this one. Either that or a bad inker. The issue was fine, but not quite as fun as it has been.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

War of Kings: Darkhawk #1

I like War of Kings. I like Darkhawk. And yet I was very unimpressed with WoK: Darkhawk the comic. The issue had almost no relation to the greater War of Kings story, at least not yet. I would be fine with a nice series featuring Darkhawk, but I really don't like were CB Cebulski is going with the story. Chris Powell is struggling with anger management issues, and after he punks out Vector of the U-Foes, he goes back to the Loners self-help group. To be honest, I think DH is better than the Loners at this point, his exposure and characterization in Nova's title was so good, I hate seeing him as this self-hating loser. Since I have so little in the character portrayed this way, it really kind of ruined the issue for me. I do like the idea of there being multiple Darkhawks in space, so that's a point for possibilities. Also, I've made it clear how I feel about stupid deaths in comics, so if Powell's family was killed on that last page so that he can be even angrier and sulkier, then this issue will drop even further. I'm afraid I just haven't read anything by Cebulski that I really enjoy.

Harvey Tolibao's art was ok, but his figures can look pretty odd sometimes. Vector looked mighty weird.


Invincible #59

Powerplex has a pretty dang depressing origin. I'm impressed that Robert Kirkman can still write some of the things he does now that he has a kid. This was his "villain point of view" issue, so we see Powerplex as he gets more and more obsessed with taking out Invincible. The thing is, some of the guilt does have to rest with Invincible, because a lot of people have been caught up in his fights. That said, it was pretty tragic watching Powerplex lose everything trying to destroy a guy who doesn't deserve it. I loved the series of fights as Powerplex beat up Shapesmith and the Teen Team, then just went home like normal as he worked his way up to Invincible. I don't think I've ever seen a super-villain's supporting family before, so Kirkman is still hitting original ideas here.

Ryan Ottley's art is the model of consistent. Powerplex isn't too dynamic looking, but they can't all be home runs. (I do like Shapesmith's new costume.)


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

X-Men vs. Hulk #1

Ah Chris Claremont. You do love writing a certain style of story. This one is set in the vague past of the X-Men, with Colossus taking on the Hulk. I'm not sure this jibes with modern takes that would have Hulk mopping the floor with ol Petey, but Colossus holds his own here. There isn't too much of a point here. Logan is trying to teach the X-Men some kind of lesson about toughness and preparedness, but I kind of lost interest in the "lesson." I found the dialogue amusing, especially the fairly generic language about Colossus using his training to fight the mindless hulk. I think my favorite part of the issue is that Colossus gave Banner his clothes, so maybe those giant-guy clothes would actually fit the Hulk.

Jheremy Raapack's art is not quite ready for prime-time. He's got a vaguely Michael Ryan quality to his art, and some of his panels are fine, but he has a little work to do on storytelling. The art is ok, but there is room for him to improve.


Punisher #2

Rick Remender is doing a decent job here. If Punisher has to be interacting with the Marvel U, there are worse things he could be doing than targeting uber-evil Norman Osborn. I'm not sure how long the concept can last (but I have that concern with Dark Reign in general). Punisher's new flunky (unnamed?) is an amusing tech-nerd, but man, he really needs to understand how things end for EVERYONE Castle ever works with. It never goes well. This book plays up the super-hero shared universe of the Punisher, he uses laser rifles and raids an armory that includes an Ant-Man helmet, so we're deep in shared universe territory here. I've been spoiled by the gritty MAX Punisher series though, so this isn't really my preferred take on the character anymore. It looks like the Hood will be taking on Punisher starting next issue, no doubt allowing low level flunkies to be blasted and killed when they take on the big P. Again, for a shared universe take, this is fine.

Jerome Opena's art is gritty and scratchy, and occasionally hard to read.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Batman #686

I'm about to commit comic blasphemy. I didn't think this issue was that great. Sure, Neil Gaiman has a nice turn of phrase here and there... "It ended how you'd think it would. He died." Gaiman writes what is essentially an Elseworlds story here. He's having characters take turns talking about how Batman could have died, not necessarily how he did. The versions of characters telling the tales are not the in-continuity versions in any case, we've got some mixing of pre-Crisis and post-Crisis going on, leaving me a little confused. I don't have a problem with this kind of thing, but wasn't this billed as the cap on the modern Batman story? I expected something other than an Elseworlds, I guess. Again, I feel like I've been misled by the DC marketing machine, since this would probably be fine as a one-shot or out-of-continuity annual, but as issue 686 of Batman following issue 685 (which followed on RIP and Final Crisis) I don't see how this really continues the story at all.

Andy Kubert's art is great, too bad he's so slow. His take on Catwoman is awesome in that pre-Crisis costume.


Cable #12

I'm impressed. This issue was all post-apocalyptic wandering as Cable and Hope travel further and further into the future, finding less and less sign of nature existing in any form. There is a neat sequence where Cable finds and kills some kind of robo-wolf, but the story is actually cooler since Cable has no idea why the creature is there. Probably some sort of probe sent by Bishop, I'd imagine. In any case, Cable collapses and leaves Hope panicked and scared thousands of years in the future, a pretty effective cliff-hanger. This is barely a mutant book at this point, it has really become more of a survival story. I'm digging it, and the kinder father-figure Cable is kind of interesting too. I will be ready for his eventual return to the "present" but this makes for an interesting story.

Ariel Olivetti handles the prologue dealing with the bug-men of the last few issues, but once the characters time-slide to the future, it is all Jaime McKelvie. His expressive faces really shine througout. He doesn't have to do much with backgrounds in a wasteland, but the human characters look great. I look forward to more Marvel work from him.


Justice League of America #29

Did I miss an issue? Why are we learning about Starbreaker in an awkward flashback? Did this story get told in an old issue of JLA? Is it a new presentation? Does it really not matter at all which Flash we're reading about? I have no clue which Flash this was and best of all I'm not sure it matters. Starbreaker seemed pretty random and generic too, is he the threat the League is getting ready to face? This book is kind of a mess. After two strong issues, this was a stinker. The thing is, I know Len Wein is better than this. This has got to be one of the weakest rush fill-ins I've ever read.

I like Chris Cross, but he looked mighty rushed in this. None of his characteristic facial expressions won me over, and the action was choppy.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Faces of Evil: Deathstroke #1

I enjoy any book that puts a good character back into circulation. I thought the Last Will and Testament issue where Deathstroke gets taken out was pretty pointless, and maudlin besides. So I had no investment in seeing Slade out of action for any length of time. This issue basically lets David Hine get Slade healed up and back to his status quo. There is some sort of interaction with Slade's daughter, Rose, where he wants to make sure she continues to "feel something" even if it is hate for him. So having given her that feeling while beating the snot out of her, Slade gets loose to pursue his own goals. He claims he's on his own now, with no traces to his old life. He even finds a homeless girl to begin training, fulfilling that Terra-need that is so weird. I'm ok with this if Slade is going to continue as a full on villain, at least he's out there again. The bigger problem for me is once again, I imprinted on the wrong era of DC Comics. When I started reading Titans, Slade was an awesome bad ass helping Nightwing, Phantasm, and Pantha find their old teammates during Titans Hunt. To me, THOSE were the New Titans, the old guys were mysterious and not as cool. So I liked Slade as the anti-hero, but that isn't the way of things now.

Georges Jeantty is always good on art, and this issue is no exception. I loved his fight sequences. The over the shoulder shot as Slade unloads into a chopper was pretty sweet. But overall, this was another exercise in set-up, like all the Faces of Evil. There were no stories that "needed" to be told or that were fantastic on their own. They felt like modern tie-ins. Competent stories by professionals that were editorially driven.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Faces of Evil: Kobra #1

The Faces of Evil books are generally kind of pointless. This book is going to be hard to review. The original Kobra was a twin brother to a guy trying to stop him, only this issue shows how the "good" brother was supposed to be the "evil" brother, and now he's accepting his fate. As he sends the entire Kobra organization underground, he also eliminates the snake-babies from Greg Rucka's excellent final arc in Checkmate. I suppose some house cleaning is in order if DC doesn't want that picked up, but all this did was make Checkmate seem like an ineffectual and corrupt organization. Maybe they are now, I suppose. As a plot device, the new Kobra is a pretty good one, since he can stand in for any religious extremist in any DCU title. The actual de-tangling of 30 year old plot threads is handled well enough by Ivan Brandon too. There is so much continuity cleanup being done here, it is hard to really think of this as Good, but I suppose it was competently done and it does leave Kobra in a place to be used later.

Julian Lopez's art was pretty nice. His Superman looked great, and the weird cracked mouth take on Kobra was suitably disturbing.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Secret Warriors #1

There is a lot of potential here. I really liked Hickman's take on the Marvel Universe. The team of "secret warriors" definitely has potential, although I must confess that I don't really like any of them that much yet. What really whets my appetite for this comic is the text piece in the back of the issue. I saw references to old Steranko material AND to the excellent Bob Harras-written Nick Fury vs. SHIELD ("the Deltites affair). So someone has definitely done some research on the good Fury comics of yesteryear. I would would probably be more interested in a straight espionage book using AIM, Hydra, and the rest, but we may still get that. I've read in interviews that Hickman states the secret warriors are not just the new characters here, but will involve factions from all over the Marvel U. Handled well, that could be awesome. Fury comes off as suitably bad-ass in this, his confrontation with Obama being particularly amusing, but man, that backup shows how much work has been done to set this up. I'm hopeful.

Stefano Caselli has a dynamic style that works great for the action and is good enough for the interpersonal stuff.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Mighty #1

I really shouldn't be surprised. Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne are good, so The Mighty #1 is good. This book has all the hallmarks of being an an early cancel by DC, so I'm sorely tempted to not wait for the trade. I'm afraid if I wait I won't get the chance to read it. The book tells the story of the private police force that cleans up after the world's only superhuman. When the force's captain turns up dead, we follow the narrator as he steps up for the job. The relationships here look very entertaining, both the professional and personal ones. I really like the new captain's relationship with his wife. She's smart enough to be more worried than he is, which is a fun dynamic. I'm worried that the early signs point to Alpha One (the hero) as the murderer, but surely it wouldn't be that obvious, would it? We're supposed to think that, right? I'm really anxious to see what happens, but unsure if I can wait for the trade. We'll see!

Peter Snejberg is perfect for this type of project. His facial expressions are fantastic and I even liked the simple, functional design for Alpha One.


Ms. Marvel #35

Well that was a little better. I'm still not getting the title I'd hope from Ms. Marvel, but this was interesting at least. Ms. Marvel heads to Georgia to investigate the mass suicide of a cult of Captain Mar-Vell from the average limited series pre-dating Civil War. It seems the cultists are so upset that Marvel Boy is now going by Captain Marvel's name that they had to off themselves. Seems extreme, but it has a nice tinge of reality to make it an interesting comic story. The problem is that we again have very little of Ms. Marvel in costume fighting villains. I can hope that will come, but it isn't here. Surely that recipe for a comic isn't that hard to figure out? There is a lot of stuff in this book about some Ascension plot device involving Ms. M's past involving Norman Osborne, but I'm pretty bored by that whole story and to be honest, it kind of confuses me. I just don't really understand who any of the players are in the story.

Patrick Olliffe is a classic artist, drawing something a little more smashy-smashy would be appreciated.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Captain America: Theater of War: America the Beautiful #1

Captain America is so darn cool. One shots like this really point out the difference between Steve Rogers and Winter Cap. Rogers is such a stand up guy that you can't help but be impressed by him. Paul Jenkins writes the lead where Cap keeps a watchful eye over an incompetent soldier, trying to make him live up to his potential. He finally does, but at a great cost. So the story is told in flashback as Cap talks about his relationship with the soldier. The action is all set during WWII and it is easy to see why that is Cap's golden age. He's such an inspiring figure, and seeing him function with regular troops really plays up the what a huge deal he would be to a normal soldier. The close of the story is a little heavy handed, but in a good way.

Gary Erskine's art is decent, but his faces are all a little lumpy. He does have a few panels where he nails Cap perfectly though, so much so that I almost think it looks like Kieron Dwyer drew it. I'd recommend this book to anyone missing that classic Cap feeling.

The backup by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway follows Cap's influence again, this time with a soldier who met him during the battle of the bulge. Again we've got a santized comic war-story, but with the inspirational Cap added in. This really is an effective use of the character, and I always love Ordway's art, so this was a winner too. It is always nice seeing Cap and Fury's respect for the greatest generation. I'll be buying the Theater of War trade for sure.


New Avengers #49

Well, I will admit I didn't see that coming. Last issue Luke Cage made a deal with the devil/Norman Osborn that he would work with him if they helped him get his kid back. Norman held up his end of the deal, pretty darn quickly. So Cage turns around and attacks the Dark Avengers and runs off. The whole time Norman is in shock that Cage didn't keep his word. I'm a little surprised too. I mean, I'm not so naive that I think heroes can't lie, but man, Cage didn't even try. I actually hope there are some repercussions, because Captain America sure wouldn't do that. Very surprising. I do kind of like the role Bendis has Clint Barton taking on the New Avengers team: leader. Barton is the most interested in the Dark Avengers, and he won't stand for them ruining his team's good name. That's a fun character bit that is going to lead directly into a big confrontation next issue. I don't really see how this ongoing antagonism will work on an ongoing basis, but at least it is entertaining.

Billy Tan's artwork is ok, but I'm not a fan of his style. Stuart Immonen takes over with issue 50, and I think the book will improve when he comes on. The story is sticking to the stuff Bendis does well, short staccato bits of action followed by personal drama, and when he sticks to that his books are pretty decent.


Terror Titans #5

I'm not really sure what the point of this series is. We've spent 5 issues now watching the evil of the terror team, and while some of them are interesting characters (notably Copperhead and Persuader) I'm just not sure why these guys deserved a 5 issue limited. Ravager is pretty cool, but making her an addict to adrenaline doesn't exactly make her more likable, and she was a borderline villain before. I'm not fond of seeing Desaad and the Female Furies used as underlings to Clock King either. I actually thought Desaad would have gone to Earth 51 after Final Crisis? When does this series take place? I'm unclear on how this fits in to the greater story of the DCU, actually.

The martyr heroes are kind of amusing, because they're going to be cannon fodder in the last issue. We do have another death in this issue, but it was someone created in this series, at least. I'm sure some of the more obscure folks in that crowd are dead meat too though. This is one gory comic.

I still like Joe Bennett's art. I wish he was drawing a book I liked more.


Final Crisis: Revelations #5

Please tell me how this related to Final Crisis in any way. Nothing that happened in this comic had anything to do with the greater story in Final Crisis. We had a classic DCU villain wrecked when Vandal Savage turned into the ridiculous Cain. We had the Spectre split from his host then re-connected. We had the Question (new one) wrapped up in a spiritual battle that is certainly not where the character seems to work best. We had a kind of silly new character called the Radiant introduced as God's spirit of peace or forgiveness. I just don't see the point of this series at all. Huntress was in this last issue, but she was pretty unrecognizable from the character I liked so much in Birds of Prey. Question's tough gal dialogue in the face of overwhelming odds was decent, but Cain's part in this was awful. He turned out to not really have any power at all, and all we've lost is a good villain. As a tie-in, this was a failure too, as nothing Question did here had anything to do with how she acted in Final Crisis.

Philip Tan's art is dynamic, but pretty unclear in places.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Walking Dead #58

Robert Kirkman has made it clear that there is as much to fear from the survivors as there is from the dead in the world of the Walking Dead. Abraham's story is awful, because you just know that's how things would go down in a world of zombies situation. I do like the bonding that Rick, Abraham, and even Carl can have, as men surviving and trying to protect their tribes in this awful world, people who haven't had their "switch go off" as Rick puts it would not be able to survive. I'm worried about the rest of the group splitting up, but who knows what will happen before Rick and the supply team get back. We do see the survivors from early in the series again, but not exactly how we'd expect. I'm avoiding spoilers, but I don't fault Morgan anything for what he does. I think Kirkman is probably expressing some feelings about his new fatherhood in this book, and I don't blame him for the choices he's having his characters make. And for the record, I don't think Eugene is a doctor or knows how the zombie plague started. He's a zombie movie buff or something and is totally faking.

Charlie Adlard does a great job this issue. He's got long panels of just talking, as Abraham and Rick exchange their stories, but I couldn't look away, the anguish on their faces was well done.


Secret Six #6

I didn't see this one coming. A LOT happens this issue, stuff that conceivably could change the way this book functions, and I won't spoil what I mean. The Junior situation is resolved fairly quickly, with Bane staying strong for his few lines of dialogue this issue. We find out more about Jeannette, and she's got a pretty neat origin. She's a banshee with an unhealthy fascination with death (and therefore, with Deadshot). She's coming onto Deadshot pretty hard the whole issue, calling him her "knight of death" and other creepy lines, so that could be a twisted little relationship. Gail Simone also brings back an old friend/foe of the Six, an ex-member who has a bone to pick with the team, and it is a lot of fun seeing this twisted little guy again. Simone writes him better than anyone else. Should I be scared that Simone is so good at writing sick characters? Maybe, but that twisted nature is what makes this book so riveting, along with the fact that we can totally root for the flawed leads because everyone around them is so much worse.

Nicola Scott's artwork is as strong as ever. Standout panels include Jeannette's origin, which was CREEPY and the Scandal's quick response when things go bad late in the issue. The Origins and Omens backup was a bit confusing, since I didn't know the scarred Oan (called "Scar" - ugh) was revealed as a follower of the Black Lanterns, but oh well. It's fine for what it is, but the main story is better.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

X-Men: Kingbreaker #2

Chris Yost's second issue has more happening. The Starjammers start actually taking their own fate in their hands, which is nice. I'm also enjoying the teases about Gladiator and Lillandra. I'm not sure what the history is between them, but I'm intrigued. Gladiator is always neat, and in this issue we see a female counterpart who seems pretty reckless and destructive. She's leading a team of aliens (one of which seems to be a symbiote) that Vulcan sends after the rebel Starjammers. I liked the use of Marvel races in making this new strikeforce, but I'm really interested to see how Oracle and the other Imperial Guardsmen react to Vulcan's evil. He's getting more and more out of control, and I'm hoping that at least a few of the Guard will switch sides during War of Kings. The story isn't fantastic, but it is solid.

Dustin Weaver's art is fine. He's got some Al Rio influence to his artwork, seen most clearly in his take on Rachel Grey. But the story is clear and the anatomy looks good, so I have no complaints.


Battlefields: The Night Witches #1-3

Garth Ennis' war stories are some of his best work. I have not been too impressed with most of Dynamite's output, but I had to see what Ennis would put into their war-books. It seems this is just a chance for Ennis to tell riveting war stories. This series followed brave women who bombed German invaders during WWII as they invaded Russia. The women had poor equipment and the worst flight times, but they did their patriotic duty. The series followed a few pilots, their commanding officer, and a German unit as they all became mired in the Russian winter. The story has an awful ending, of course, and it is hard to fault any of the characters for their choices, even as you wince to see what is happening. Even the worst of the characters, the Germans, are somewhat pitiable in their fate (although they do deserve it). This is right up Ennis' alley, and is well worth picking up in trade.

Russ Braun's art is not pretty. It tells the story clearly, but without the frills of most super-hero work. His approach works well with the brutal nature of the story.


Green Arrow & Black Canary #16

Merlin is neat villain, a kind of anti-Green Arrow. We see a little of that here, but GA certainly mops the floor with him pretty quickly. I do appreciate the done-in-one aspect of the book, and the fact that Andrew Kreisberg is setting up a new supporting cast member for the title. I was surprised to see Black Canary taken out by Merlin though, that's two issues in a row where BC's fighting skills have been pretty poor, and she's been a liability both times. I'd hope there is an outside reason, but I'm not sure there will be. I also must have missed why Oracle and Black Canary aren't speaking anymore. I still haven't seen anything that will bring me running back to this comic, at this point I may just have to admit I'm not a Green Arrow or Black Canary fan.

Dan Norton's artwork is clear and no-frills. This type of book is a good fit for him, with straight forward action with some drama.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Bat-News from NYCC

I forgot to mention the Bat-title announcements from NYCC. That probably shows how excited I am about all the upcoming bat-madness!

  • Batman - I'm back when Grant Morrison is
  • Batman & the Outsiders - by Tomasi, so I'll get the trade
  • Red Robin - if this is Jason Todd, then no thanks
  • Batman & Robin - this would depend on creative team
  • Batgirl - no thanks
  • Batman: The Streets of Gotham - depends on the creative team and high concept
  • Gotham City Sirens - again, depends on the creative team and high concept, but I'm guessing Paul Dini
At this point, I'm so concerned about the heavy hand of editorial dictating what long-standing characters like Nightwing and Robin act like that I don't see how I'll be confident enough to buy these books.

Ghost Rider: Hell Bent and Heaven Bound TPB

Jason Aaron's take on Ghost Rider is awesome. In this opening trade we have the following high concepts: a haunted stretch of highway, hot nurses that kill for an evil angel, a family of cannibals, and a imprisoned behemoth who kills for that same angel. I'm not sure how I feel about having Ghost Rider be empowered by a corrupt angel, that kind of fundamentally alters the character, but I can't complain about this story. John Blaze is MAD. He's searching for a way to get into heaven to get to Zadkiel, the evil angel, but the only way is to die and be deserving. Since Blaze sold his soul to the devil, that normal path just isn't going to work. So we've got an enraged spirit of vengeance tearing around ripping sinners apart and trying to get a little vengeance of his own. The locales and supporting characters are so richly developed they could support a movie or TV show just on their own merits, but as a backdrop to a dude with a flaming skull-head, they are just about perfect. I'm really happy this is the type of book GR is featured in. Screeching tires, thrashing chains, and hot asphalt. This book is about living hard and meting out vengeance!

Roland Boschi draws the first issues pretty darn well, with his hot nurses and the actual cycle being his high points. Tan Eng Huat takes over for the Deacon storyline, and his Deacon is one impressive and scary dude. (As for how GR takes out the Deacon, yowza. That might be sacrilegious!) Read this trade while listening to Rob Zombie, folks.


Booster Gold #16

Dan Jurgens' story about the Egyption dagger is proving to be another excuse to give Booster a tour through time. I'm ok with it, but I'm not really feeling any real danger or driving story elements in this book. Booster is fun to watch as he bumbles around, but without Rip Hunter to act as the enforcer for the story rules, I'm not sure how long people will come back. Enemy Ace guest-stars in this issue and is a neat enough guy, although I'm not sure he'd really help Booster out quite that much. That would be treason, and I can't see the Ace going quite that far for his conscience.

I'm also not sure how I feel about the mind-erasing ray that the Time Sphere can now blast. It's a lot like the Men in Black mind-pens, I suppose. It does mean that Booster can be featured in stories with just about anyone, who then has their mind-wiped so that it isn't a continuity problem, but isn't mind-wiping the foundation of a fairly big story recently? Like, where we established it was almost the most evil thing you can do? In any case, the biggest issue with this book right now is that it is just kind of there, wandering around without a central storyline.

The art is typical Jurgens. Clear storytelling with sometimes limited backgrounds (but mud in WWI is a simple thing, I suppose).


More NYCC Announcements and Thoughts

A few more bits you guys might be interested in:

  • The Marvels Project: The origins of the Marvel U starring Cap, Human Torch, and Namor by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. Sounds good!
  • Spider-Man: The Short Halloween: Some SNL guys and Kevin Maguire are doing a funny one-shot, I hope it gets collected with the BND trades or I'm afraid I'll miss it.
  • Ultimate Comics Spider-Man vol II: With vol I cancelled, it will be relaunched with Bendis writing and Hellcat's David LaFuente on art. I think I'm going to bow out at this point.
  • Ultimate Comics Avengers: Mark Millar doing whatever he wants with Marvel characters. That's the real theme for this book. But with Carlos Pacheco drawing, it will probably be entertaining.
  • Haunt: Todd McFarlane and Robert Kirkman will be co-writing a book with breakdowns by Greg Capullo with Ryan Ottley finishing. Too many cooks and a book that looks like it wants to be a blend of Spawn and Spidey. I'm going to have to hear really good reviews.
  • New Avengers: Stuart Immonen takes over on art this summer. I'll enjoy the trades a lot more now!
  • Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers: I see Speedball's cat in there. Looks fun.
  • Dark Reign: Too many spin-offs to even mention. I'll pick and choose based on creative team.
  • Doom Patrol: Keith Giffen is relaunching the book starring the original four members. I will give it a chance, but Giffen is hit or miss with me.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Captain Britain & MI13 #9

Paul Cornell finally wraps up the Hell Comes to Birminham story this issue, and it comes to a good close, even if the story did go on too long. I'm loving the addition of Blade to the team, he really makes sense and adds a good tough guy dynamic to the team. I do worry that Black Knight rarely has anything to say this issue, but I did enjoy the developments with his sword. That imposter ebony blade is an evil, controlling thing, and it successfully takes over Pete Wisdom for a moment when it gets the chance. I think the design of the blade even changed, and judging from the cliff-hanger ending, Dracula is involved. Neat!

I liked the face off with Plotka destroying Blade's weaponry, that is always a nice bit when the villain admits that the heroes did have one way to hurt him, but it was just destroyed. The Allistair Stuart varying look problem, which I believe was an accident in the Pete Wisdom mini, is actually used as a primary story bit here. Cornell handles the whole wrap up well, with Captain Midlands' story being a really sad one. Wisdom is actually harder on the Captain than most readers, I'd bet.

Leonard Kirk's pages look fantastic, but I'm worried at the amount of fill-in material here. I think most of the solo Captain Britian pages are done by someone else. I really want this book to remail in Kirk's style, so I hope he is still on after the next few issues.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Faces of Evil: Solomon Grundy #1

I'm not sure how the writing was split up between Scott Kolins and Geoff Johns but this wasn't as good as a normal Johns comic. It wasn't awful, and it did acknowledge the many iterations of Solomon Grundy, but it wasn't tremendous either. I'm curious how Grundy became the Hulk like he was at the end of this issue. I think I'm most used to him in that angry undead persona, the one in the first summary panel fighting GL. I never was ok with the kind Grundy in Starman or the scheming one in JLA, I think it weakens the character having so many different versions running around.

I'm also annoyed that this is essentially issue 1 of a new mini-series featuring Grundy as he tries to break free from his curse. I guess that curse is that he is constantly reborn as wildly different personalities? I actually could buy in to a series starring GL, Grundy, and Phantom Stranger, but I'd want to know that those heroes actually appear in every issue. I'm just not interested enough in Grundy to read an extended story delving into his origin.

Kolins' art is as fantastic as always. He's one of my favorite artists, and I loved seeing his stuff here. The attack on the shelter worker and the police officers was brutal and I loved the shot of Grundy running away followed by his encounter with the truck. Overall, the art was great and the story was average, going too far into a character I'm just not that interested in. What lowers the grade is that this was a preview issue billed as a one shot.


New York Comicon: Friday News

The big announcements on Friday include the following:

  • New Mutants will return in an ongoing by Zeb Wells. I don't know the artist Diogenes Neves, but the lineup looks like it will be the original team with Wolfesbane subtracted. Wells does state that more people will join later, so maybe we'll see Shatterstar soon!
  • X-Men Forever: Chris Claremont and Tom Grummett are launching a book picking up after X-Men #3 from 1991. That's right, Claremont will be writing an X-book based on his long-standing plotlines that came to an end at that time. I'm actually a little intrigued by this. I love Grummett's artwork, but I'm a little sad he keeps ending up on projects I probably won't buy.
  • Young X-Men ends with issue 12. Looks like I won't bother with the trades there.
  • Dark Wolverine: The Wolverine title will swith protagonists when Daken takes over with issue #75. Daniel Way is writing. I think I'll be passing on this!
  • X-Force: Sex and Violence: Gabriel Del Otto will be painting this book starring Wolverine and Domino. Sounds like a safe TPB to me!
  • Adventure Comics: It will spin out of Legion of 3 Worlds and is written by Geoff Johns with art by Francis Manapul. Possible trade for me, but I'm getting tired of waiting for DC trades.
  • Dark Reign: Young Avengers: I'm not a huge fan of the characters, but Paul Cornell is writing and Mark Brooks is drawing, so I bet it will be good. I'm in.
  • Fantastic Four: Dale Eaglesham signed an exclusive with Marvel and will join Jonathan Hickman on FF after Millar leaves.
  • There will be a new Animal Man ongoing. No details.
  • James Robinson is doing a Shade origin mini-series. Sold!
More on

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fables TPB #11

Bill Willingham writes the most reasonable dialogue in comics. This trade is filled with people explaining themselves, not getting upset, and pretty much just letting a great plan come together. There are still surprises and drama, but throughout everyone is calm and stoic (he did this in his Shadowpact issues too). Robert Kirkman is the only other author I can think of who comes close.

I'm also amazed that this trade ends the ongoing Empire storyline. This whole series is about Fabletown vs. the Empire, so I'm puzzled how we can move forward with the central premise of the series irrevocably changed. What will be the driving force? Will lead characters change? I'm not sure, but I have faith in Willinghham.

I'd say the high points of the book were the initial layout of the Fables' 3-stage plan, and then the fantastic battles of the Emperor vs. Bigby. And our narrator Boy Blue (who would have thought he'd be this awesome?) gets to do some cool stuff too. I really dug the awkward pettiness from Blue's early rejection too, he's a normal guy, and that was a pretty common response.

Mark Buckingham's art is fantastic throughout, but it shines during the Cinderella espionage sequence. Those two issues have that great 60's vibe that all good spy stories need, and her page borders (glass slippers, of course) were fantastic.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nova #21

DnA put together another great issue. I love the whole idea that the reader is siding with Nova (at least I am) even in the face of all these trusted people in the Marvel U. No matter what Reed Richards or the World Mind say, I still side with Richard Rider. I never trust Ego the Living Planet, no matter what happens. And that last page was fantastic! There is a lot of potential here, but I'm not sure which way I think would work out better. Would it be neater to see Richard as a normal Nova centurion (and would he get his old uniform back?) or would it be neater to keep him as the galactic mover and shaker that he's been in this series? I think DnA have set up the possibilities so well, it could work out great either way. This issue is mostly a build up for the next stage in Richard Rider's life, but it is handled perfectly.

This issue made good use of the FF as guest stars, I liked Human Torch tuning out of the conversation with Reed and the World Mind once they "start talking nerd." Nice little character bits even with the headliners.

Wellington Alves' art is getting more refined as he gets more issues done. I really like his stuff.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Invincible Iron Man #9

What a high concept. Norman Osborn is out to get Tony Stark because Stark has the only copy of the hero database in his head! Great stuff. What is it about Iron Man that makes him match up so well against all the big bads. Not only does he get Mandarin, Justin Hammer, and his usual rogues gallery, but Dr. Doom and now Norman Osborn are perfect foils for him too. This is one of the books that makes it so fun to hate Osborn these days. He's an enraging guy to read about because you want him to get his comeuppance, but we know it is a long way off. I'm looking forward to Stark getting back in his armor and kicking butt, he's spent a lot of time sitting around 1/2 dressed watching monitors. Time for some fights!

Salvador LaRocca's light-box style art isn't as cool or dynamic as his old pencils were. I liked that old style, so this seems a little stuffy to me. He's still good, and his take on the armor is solid, but I want more action. I do think Josh Holloway/Sawyer is an interesting model for Stark though.


She-Hulk #37

Peter David is moving things back into place for things to go back to normal for the upcoming cancellation of the title. There is some nice parallel storytelling with She-Hulk's life getting back in order as she gets popular with the public, returns to the law firm, and is in the process of becoming a practicing lawyer again. While that is happening, Jazinda is impersonating She-Hulk in order to face off against the Man-Elephant. He's kind of a silly villain, but the savagery in his beat down is impressive. I did like how they resolved the fight too, with M-E possibly considering a turn to good?

I thought it was interesting how Jazinda thought "I'm losing her" when She-Hulk calls and gives her the good news. Are we talking about losing friends, or had Jazinda hoped for more? Hard to tell at this point, but it will be interesting to see what she meant.

The art is by Steve Scott, who has a much more classic approach than the studio approach from the last few months. I liked his art better than the last few issues. The story is just kind of moving along, but it isn't really anything riveting. Kind of a decent summary of David's whole run.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daredevil #115

Ed Brubaker is a consistent writer, I'll give him that. The fascinating thing about his books are that they are kind of slow, even while being entertaining. In this issue we find out that Lady Bullseye has been setting up DD to take over leadership of the Hand. Of course, Matt isn't even tempted, but it is pretty neat seeing how White Tiger and Black Tarantula have switched sides (or have they? Master Izo seems to think at least one is still good, my money is on the Tarantula!)

The nice tag-team fighting by Iron Fist and DD is handled well, these are two characters who have a lot in common and would probably get along well. It was pretty fun seeing them take on those ninjas. The problem is I don't really see any changes or movement in the title. Lady Bullseye tried this plan, it didn't work, and so she left. The story just kind of happened, and I'm sure it will be picked up again, but then don't label it part V of V. It is just an ongoing story, don't pretend it is going to make a good trade.

Michael Lark does a great job with that combat, Iron Fist taking to the air on his kicks looked incredible.


Monday, February 2, 2009

G.I. Joe #1

This book is off to a good start. Chuck Dixon has a feel for writing this book. In the first issue, we have an expansive cast, some nice abbreviations and acronyms in the spirit of Larry Hama, and while we don't get any actual Cobra operatives, Wraith showing up is a good start. I'm a little surprised to see Wraith, a Devil's Due character, used so fast, but he was a neat idea (like a ninja-ed up Zartan) so I like seeing him here.

That expansive cast seems to have 2 levels. We've got Duke, Beach Head, Scarlett, Shipwreck, and maybe Hawk as the prime players, but there are more folks hanging around at a secondary level. Torpedo, Deep Six, a new race Dusty, a new lady Dial Tone, Airtight, and Frostbite all show up in the first issue. That's a pretty rounded out cast to be getting this fast, and I'm happy to see it. Dixon is starting us out slow with the action, but that is going to let us get to know the Joes better.

Of course, there is action with Wraith and Snake Eyes showing up just too late, but I'm not the biggest Snake Eyes fan anyway.

Robert Atkins art is great, he's doing a fine job of keeping the looks modern while staying in the spirit of the old toys. I also always love the greens the troops wear around the Pit, and we get that here. The Pit is much more impressive than the old one too (and filled with Sky Hawks and other classic vehicles!)


Batman #685

This issue wasn't very good. I missed the Heart of Hush story in Detective Comics that Paul Dini wrote, and he really picked up that story here. Something about Catwoman having her heart removed and Hush now looks just like Bruce Wayne? I don't know anything about that. There is a little story about how Catwoman wants to stop some illegal poaching and selling of exotic animals, but it was a pretty generic story. It even had one of the animals rescue Catwoman from danger when a gunman gets the drop on her, so yeah, this was pretty by the numbers. I also don't really see the need for the surprise reveal at the end. They were kind of incompetent in dealing with Hush anyway (as Hush killed like 10 dudes while in their presence). The new status quo of a captured Hush that looks like Bruce Wayne? Kind of silly.

Dustin Nguyen's art was sketchy throughout. I don't know about Vietnamese rhinos, but that was one odd looking beast. Overall, this was a pretty poor "Faces of Evil" feature on Catwoman.